ABC loads up on factual and comedies – 2016 Lineup

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By Don Groves

Documentaries investigating Australia’s war in Afghanistan, the fight against the country’s ice epidemic and the state of the heath and school systems will screen on the ABC next year.

The comedy slate includes two series starring Utopia’s Luke McGregor and six pilots, with viewers voting to determine which pilot goes to a series.

The ABC also confirmed its flagship channel will be available to live-stream on iview from December and that it plans to broadcast all content in HD from next June.

ABC director of TV Richard Finlayson said at the upfronts launch: “As the national broadcaster we will continue our commitment to Australian content, delivering a high-quality, deep and diverse slate.”

The factual slate includes Essential Media and Entertainment’s Afghanistan: Inside Australia’s War, which chronicles the raw experiences of Australia’s longest war, from private soldiers to prime ministers, written and directed by Victoria Pitt and narrated by Dan Wyllie.

Northern Pictures’ Ice Wars examines efforts to combat the crystal methamphetamine epidemic sweeping large parts of Australia. More than 1.3 million Australians over 14 have tried ice, and 400,000 are now regular users.

ITV Studios Australia’s Keeping Australia Alive uses 100 cameras over 24 hours to capture a snapshot of the Australian health system.

A Smith&Nasht production, Howard on Menzies profiles the country’s longest-serving Prime Minister Sir Robert Menzies through the eyes of the second longest serving, John Howard. Bob Hawke, Barry Humphries, Rupert Murdoch and Clive James will share their views and insights with Howard.

CJZ’s The Great Education Experiment follows a government-funded school in Melbourne’s outer suburbs that embraced radical changes.

Fredbird Entertainment’s Hatch, Match & Dispatch is a behind-the-scenes look at the men and women of the Office of Births, Deaths and Marriages and the Public Trustee.

David Attenborough’s Great Barrier Reef will use pioneering camera technology including satellite scanning to show the 2,300km expanse of living coral, and macro lenses that will capture the reef’s tiniest, normally unseen.

A Bunya Treehouse production, Compass: The Shadowland explores how an outspoken Anglican priest in Gosford, an asylum seeker and a refugee advocate refuse to let fear get in the way of compassion.

Jen Peedom and Jo-anne McGowan’s new banner Stranger Than Fiction Films is producing David Stratton’s Story of Australian Cinema, featuring the long-time co-host of ABC’s At the Movies.

The Chaser’s Chas Licciardello and the ABC’s John Barron return with Planet America, which aims to help make sense of the US Presidential nominees and what it all means.

Luke McGregor takes viewers on an embarrassingly honest and humorous look at sex in Northern Pictures’ Luke Warm Sex as he asks, “With the help of experts can I get a whole lot better at sex?”.

McGregor also pairs up with Celia Pacquola, his colleague on Working Dog’s Utopia, in Guesswork Television’s Rosehaven. The series follows a guy who returns to his native Tasmania to take care of the family real estate business as his best friend turns up seemingly on the run from her own honeymoon.

Comedy Showroom will comprise six pilots for a new sitcom featuring local talent such as Eddie Perfect, Ronnie Chieng, Lawrence Mooney, Kate McCartney and Kate McLennan. Audiences will get to vote on the episodes they would like to see turned into a series.

There will be new seasons of Black Comedy; Gristmill’s Upper Middle Bogan; Soul Mates, a coproduction between Soul HQ and NBCUniversal’s US digital channel SeeSo; Shaun Micallef’s Mad As Hell from ITV Studios and Giant Baby Productions; Thinkative Television’s The Weekly with Charlie Pickering; and CJZ’s Julia Zemiro’s Home Delivery.

In digital-first exclusives, ABC iview will screen the second season of a YouTube hit, Katering/Guesswork’s The Katering Show; You Can’t Ask That, which poses awkward questions most people always wanted to ask but never could; and DAFUQ?, a satirical comedy about a group of reporters at the hottest thing in non-mainstream, cross-platform news, from WA production company Mad Kids.

In the Fresh Blood initiative with Screen Australia, two pilots will proceed to a full series: one from Skit Box , the Sydney-based trio of comedians Adele Vuko, Sarah Bishop and Greta Lee Jackson, the other the Melbourne collective Fancy Boy.

Rebel Films’ Black As looks at four young men who live in Ramingining, a remote community on the coast of Arnhem Land, whose trip by dinghy to a distant island in search of turtle, crocs and fish turns into a journey of survival.

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